HL Deb 10 June 1964 vol 258 cc911-42

4.13 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, we are extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for having put down this Motion, which enables us to discuss this highly important White Paper on The Second Nuclear Power Programme. He has, in his usual masterly fashion, drawn our attention to certain aspects of this matter. He has asked us, for example, to consider the benefits and advantages of the advanced gas-cooled reactor as against the water-moderated reactor, Britain versus the United States, and the difficulties that exist between the Atomic Energy Authority and the Central Electricity Generating Board. But I think that his Motion goes much wider than that. I think that his Motion is really asking us to say whether we think that this programme is for too much nuclear power capacity, for too little, or whether it is just about right. It seems to me that it is to this question that we have to apply our minds this evening, using, of course, as the tools of our thoughts such information as is available to us. And I must say that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, that we have not got all the information that ought to be available to us, when considering a matter of this immensity and importance.

For myself, I admit that I find it by no means easy to decide on these matters, for there are so many exceedingly difficult and complex factors that enter into their consideration. Perhaps the most difficult factor to assess in all this, or to guess at, because that is what we have to do, is that of the rapidity of technical change in this field. A decision to go ahead with an advanced gas-cooled reactor project might well find such a project completely out-dated by a subsequent discovery in harnessing nuclear fission, or even by some major advance in conventional station technique. In addition to technical considerations of that nature, we have to consider the effect on our economy of the vast capital expenditures involved in the building 9f nuclear power stations as against the conventional stations. What is clear in all this, at any rate, to me, is that the Generating Board have to make provision for a consumption of electricity and a sufficient potential to meet the sort of winter demand we had last year and that they can do this only by vast capital expenditure.

Whichever type of plant is decided upon, the cost in money, material and manpower will have to be met by the nation. I understand that the total investment of the electricity industry in 1962 was some £406 million, equalling some 8.8 per cent. of the gross fixed capital formation. That is a pretty big share for any single industry. My guess is that it will be no less for 1964, and I am sure that for the years ahead it will be very much more. This capital expenditure is being made at a time when, if I read the N.E.D.C. Report, The Growth of the Economy, aright, capacity is pretty well stretched to the limit. The spare capacity is negligible, and is likely to be negligible for many years to come. In these circumstances, the Government, in consultation with the Central Electricity Generating Board and the Atomic Energy Authority, have to decide whether the country can better afford the high capital expenditure on nuclear stations now, in the hope of lowered generating costs in the years from 1970 onwards, or the lower immediate capital cost of conventional stations now and higher generating costs in future.

In this connection, the White Paper does not give us all the information we ought to have to enable us to form a judgment. All we are told in the White Paper is that the conventional stations planned in 1960 will cost about £37 per kilowatt and that the cost at the Wylfa nuclear power station is estimated to he some £100 per kilowatt. As to the advantages to be gained from one type, as against the other, all the White Paper says is: Against the relatively high capital cost of nuclear power must be set running costs which are substantially below those for conventional stations. I am bound to say that in my view this is not sufficient information to give this House, and the country generally, as to the costs and as to the decisions of the Government that have to be taken and supported. The White Paper goes on to tell us that a number of types of reactor are under consideration, but that we shall not know the capital costs of the various types under consideration until the tenders for an advanced gas-cooled reactor station, and possibly tenders from British industry for the American water-moderated reactor system station are received.

The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has described this seeking of tenders for such a station as "a tom-fool decision"—at least I understood him to say that. I must say that I cannot agree. I believe it is right that we should know, and that the Government should know, what are likely to he the costs of one form of energy as against another. In connection with the American water-moderated reactor system, I have seen somewhere that the capital cast of the American Oyster Creek Station was as low as £40 per kilowatt, which figure brings it very near to the £37 per kilowatt of the conventional station as given to us in the White Paper. The American system, I learn, has the disadvantage of higher running costs than the British A.G.R. But we are not told in this White Paper, or anywhere else, how much higher they are. What is the difference in the running costs of the one as against the other?

I must say that when, as I hope, despite anything which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has said, tenders are received, the Government will not be frightened off the American system by the prestige factor or the dollar import cost. In the latter connection, I see that the Chairman of the Generating Board, Sir Christopher Hinton, said at a Press conference that the "hardware" import from the United States of America for the water-moderated system would not exceed 15 per cent. of the capital cost. So that, clearly, if a decision were taken to use this system, 85 per cent. of the money spent would be spent with the construction and manufacturing industry in this country. A decision to buy the American system would, of course, be a considerable blow to our national prestige. But, my Lords, our attempt in this country to keep one move ahead of any possible rival, in both the aircraft and atomic energy fields, has been a very expensive business indeed, costing us many hundreds of millions of pounds, which certainly has not paid off in any straight calculation of profit and loss. Other countries have in the past profited from our research, and if it proves that the American system happens to be better than ours, I see no reason why in this country we should not profit from their research. The research in this field is largely an international matter, and I feel that we must be prepared to benefit from research wherever it is conducted. We must do what we can in this field, of course, and spend vast sums; but do not let it blind us to the fact that we have to go on living in a difficult sort of world.

So far as exporting our nuclear production is concerned—and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, rightly made a great point of this—national pride will not help us in the export market if the American product is cheaper when the factors of capital and running costs are taken into consideration. If I were a country seeking to buy nuclear power, I should look for it in the market that could supply it most cheaply, both on capital costs and on running costs afterwards; and I am sure that the whole world would look at it in this way. Of course, if we can, by some tremendous advance, get a world market, we shall be very happy to do so. But I do not think we shall necessarily ensure a market abroad by seeking perhaps some form of nuclear energy and power which has been outstripped by somebody else.

In the consideration of cost (and this is part of the whole problem) as between conventional and nuclear power, I believe that some thought must be given to the possible effect on our indigenous coal industry and the social consequences of a decreased consumption of coal. I know that this is likely to be only marginal—or I should think it would be. But what is marginal when looked at from the national point of view, and taking a wide aspect of it, is of tremendous importance to the village that is built around the top of a pit—around that little hole which goes down in to the ground from which the coal comes and upon which the whole of the community depends.

Leaving that point, I should like to ask the Minister whether, in the figure of £37 per kilowatt for conventional stations, which we are told in the programme is the figure, account has been taken of the 500-megawatt generating sets, of which the Minister of Power is quoted as saying: The industry and the contracting firms are making a notable and, indeed, daring jump in technology, so as to win large economies in both capital and operating costs. Has this leap ahead in this field been taken into consideration by the Minister; and is it shown to us in the figure of £37 in the White Paper? If the £37 per kilowatt does not take into account these large capital economies, what sort of capital cost figure can we expect; and what will be the effect on operating costs of these 500-megawatt generating sets? May I take it that Sir Christopher Hinton had those economies in mind when he told a Press Conference: In terms of trading money values, the estimates suggest that by 1975 nuclear power costs should be round about 0.4d. to 0.45d. per unit, and this would compare with conventional power figures of round about 0.5d. to 0.52d."? I cannot pretend to be sufficiently knowledgeable of all the technical considerations to judge of the lifetime of nuclear stations. Clearly, this is important in the balance of costs and advantages against the conventional form of power. I must admit that I was tremendously impressed by the statement and the calculations of the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, in the debate last year. But on balance it seems to me, a natural conservative (with a small "c" in such matters), that the Generating Board are right in the circumstances to use the 20 years as against the noble Lord's figure of 25 to 30 years. Certainly I believe it is right to do this until such time as further operating experience has been gained. Perhaps I am wrong about the way I look at all these problems, but I cannot imagine that the Generating Board is prejudiced in favour of conventional as against nuclear power. After all, the job of the Generating Board is, as the noble Lord has reminded us, to provide electricity as cheaply as possible, and not to take undue risks with consumers' money—and inevitably sums of great magnitude are involved in their decisions.

I should have thought, too, that if a major breakthrough in nuclear fission research took place within the next few years—and an article I read in last Sunday's Observer, headed, "There is a Smell of Success in the Lab." seems to point that way—conventional stations, with their lower capital cost and high running cost, could be more cheaply scrapped than the high capital cost nuclear stations immediately projected. This, I think, is a pretty important consideration, especially if the promise that is held out to us is realised. It would be much better to scrap a low-cost article than a high-cost article if something does come along.

Having said many things which would apear to favour the building of conventional stations rather than nuclear type stations, I certainly would not support a proposal which dropped the nuclear programme, merely waiting for something to turn up. I think this would be a great mistake. Nuclear manufacturers must be kept in being as a nucleus about which it would be possible to build if the necessity arises. Certainly further experience must be sought and gained in this whole field. There ought to be a number of firms in existence with the construction know-how. This can be done in the sort of programme which appears to me to be set out in the White Paper, and, of course, the only way to keep them in being is to keep them employed. I should have thought that to sink too much of our precious capital in nuclear stations at this time would be a serious mistake.

There is another question which I should like to put to the Minister. The Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries recommended that consideration should be given to how the additional cost of making power by nuclear means under the present programme should be apportioned between the taxpayer and the electricity consumer". It is an additional cost to the consumer which Sir Christopher Hinton put at some £20 million a year. Last year the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in replying to the debate on this subject [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 251, col. 1446] told us that … Ministers will of course give most careful consideration to the views of the Select Committee. That assurance was given just about a year ago, but there is nothing in the White Paper about it. I think that to-day, more than a year after the publication of the Report of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, we ought to have been given the result of the Government's consideration on this point as to the allocation of cost between the consumer and the taxpayer in this field.

The Select Committee also recommended that the Cabinet Committee should consider as a matter of urgency, the extent to which the Board and the Authority should bear the responsibility for research and development of civilian types of reactors and the legislation which should be introduced to amend the Authority's Statute. I believe that this problem is still unresolved, but I am sure the House would like to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, on this matter when he replies.

In this whole matter of research I believe that the remarks and criticisms of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, were entirely relevant. I believe, too, that we ought to consider very carefully his suggestion as to the Canadian system. His remarks in this field ought to carry tremendous weight, especially as they clearly back up that part of the recommendation of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries. I hope that the noble Lord will have some reply to make to-night on this extremely important point.

I believe that in (his House, and elsewhere, we must accept the challenge of this Motion and say what we think about the Second Nuclear Power Programme. I came to a consideration of it with a fairly fresh mind, unimpeded by any past statements on the subject, and I am bound to say that it looks to me as though this programme is just about right. The keynote of it is flexibility, which runs through it all—flexibility in which there will be ordered a sufficient number of nuclear-powered stations to keep the home industry in being, in which advantage may be taken as between the A.G.R. and the water-moderated reactors, whichever appears on tender to have the balance of advantage, and in which we are not so deeply committed that we could not later benefit from the new discoveries which appear likely in this field.

I must admit that, as a member of the Opposition, I rather dislike saying all this, because it is supporting the Government White Paper. We have been told in the past that it is the job of the Opposition to oppose, and in general I subscribe to that. But I think it is absolute madness for the Opposition to oppose when it happens, by chance, to think that the Government are right, and particularly in the sort of circumstances where we may find a change of side after the next Election and some of the words which may be said from this Box may be quoted against somebody then sitting on that side. But I am bound to say that I find this exercise of looking at this matter extremely interesting, and I end where I began, by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for having forced me to look at it.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, in accordance with our usual custom, I must declare an interest in the subject of this debate to-day. But I would emphasise that I speak only for myself and, I hope, in the national interest. 1 listened with great interest and attention to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and I must admit that I felt he had painted a picture in colours a little too contrasting, and that the general impression to me was a rather gloomy picture. I shall show, perhaps, later in my speech why I think he was rather more pessimistic than he need have been.

This is a very difficult subject, and one of the main issues behind the problem which we are discussing to-day is common to all nationalised corporations, who are monopoly buyers from industry. This is a particular case, but we have a similar situation where the Air Corporations buy from the aircraft industry, and where British Railways buy from the traction industry. I would entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, that, on the whole, over the years since the first nuclear programme was initiated engineering has been better than administration. This is very important for, as I say, this is a difficult industry with a very advanced and fast-moving technology, and a good organisational structure behind it is, therefore, of the utmost importance.

I do not want to spend too much time looking back. We could spend a great deal of time if we chose, but there is little value in that, except to reap the benefit of past experience for the future. But I think we should bear in mind the very rapid technical advance in this field. It is less than ten years since the programme was initiated and the industry was formed. Within those ten years five new nuclear power stations will be in being, supplying power to the grid. Very large research and development teams have been built up in industry and in Government establishments. Industry has developed the size of nuclear reactors from 100 megawatts per unit up to nearly 600 megawatts per unit, and has reduced the cost from £180 per kilowatt to £100 per kilowatt. I do not believe it is really fair to say to the industry or to the Government and those who have been concerned in this enterprise that that is a failure, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, suggested.

In spite of those achievements, there is no doubt at all that profits in industry have been low and often negative. It is doubtful, too, whether the types of contract which were put out to industry were really suitable during the period of such rapid advance, when both customers and suppliers, both industry and Government, were feeling their way and learning fast. It is doubtful, too, whether the technical resources have been as well used as they could have been, and it is sadly clear that the responsibilities between industry, the A.E.A. and the C.E.G.B. have not always been shared in the best way.

Finally, looking at the past, we must ask why, after ten years and expenditure running into many hundreds of millions of pounds, serious consideration is now being given to the use of American designs for our next round of reactors and atomic power stations—consideration being given, in my view. absolutely rightly, for the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Champion, gave in his speech. But the question that we must also ask is: are all the relevant factors being taken into account in deciding this question? These questions are, of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said, the central issue of to-clay's debate.

In deciding our future policy I suggest that there are certain basic objectives which should be isolated. First of all, there is the broad one, that scarce national technical resources must be employed to the best advantage. Secondly, electric power must be supplied as economically as possible. In the short term, this requires correct choice of systems and efficient methods of placing contracts and of controlling them. In the long term, it requires an active research and development programme. I do not believe that these are mutually exclusive, as one article I read in a journal recently suggested. Thirdly, an efficient industry must be allowed to make reasonable profits on its capital employed. If it is not, the whole economics of the programme are unrealistic and are distorted, and the competitive power of industry is seriously reduced.

If I may, I should like to spend a few minutes on those objectives. First, the proper use of national resources requires a stable policy. It requires that there should be no more rapid expansion and contraction from four groups to five groups to three groups; and, who knows, perhaps it will be necessary to come down to two groups. I think that that lesson has been learned and it is not for me to say any more. Also, it requires that there should be no duplication between industry, the A.E.A. and the C.E.G.B. There has to be a much better delineation of responsibility. There should be a sensible administrative set-up in the Government to control all these parties; to control the C.E.G.B., the A.E.A., the research development and production work it does and the share of the work which is done in industry. There is a strong impression—perhaps it is more than that; others know more about it than I do—that the C.E.G.B. and the A.E.A. have not got on too well together; that their policies have been unco-ordinated; even in opposition. The C.E.G.B. appears to be setting up quite substantial development teams, apparently somewhat unco-ordinated with the industrial effort. This may be right, but is it part of an overall policy?

In the Trend Report, which we discussed in another debate, it seems to be expected by Her Majesty's Government that the A.E.A. should be left under the Ministry of Science, on what seem to me to be the extraordinary grounds that the Authority has production, as distinct from research and development responsibility. That seems to me a particularly unconvincing reason. Surely, we should leave the research functions of the A.E.A. under the Ministry of Science, and surely it is wise to review their responsibility for the development and collaboration with industry in their field; and I should think we ought to look carefully at whether they should not be much more closelys associated with, perhaps under the control of, the Ministry of Fuel and Power.

The second objective is the provision of economical power. The current issue seems to be the choice between a United Kingdom-developed system and an American-developed system. I would entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Champion, that if one system is clearly and obviously more economic than another we cannot simply turn it down because it has been designed in America and not here. This would mean, if we did adopt that policy, that we should have to start developing that better system here when the information could be obtained by taking a licence.

But we must, in making this choice, beware of misleading comparisons and false conclusions. the U.S.A. a very great deal of development has been financed, as in so many fields, from the defence programme, and I think, with respect, that this was a point which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, did not mention in his speech. I believe it to be important, because the programme for nuclear submarines has put a very great deal of knowledge in the hands of American industry and has helped very much with their development programme. I believe that they have in America built uneconomic power stations with direct subsidies. I believe it is true that the cost of fuel supplied is subsidised. Development contracts are placed direct with industry in the same kind of way that we place development contracts in the defence field in this country. All these things put American industry on a different footing in this field from our own industry, which has accepted fixed-price contracts for the manufacture and commissioning of atomic power stations, including the cost, at their own risk, of doing all the development work required.

In America, too, there are two principal groups, Westinghouse and the General Electric Company. On the whole, they have concentrated on one system each and they are now in a position to make several stations from one design, as the noble Lord has already pointed out. We are not yet ready to do this in the United Kingdom, and I think it was perfectly right during the period when we were searching for a system, for a type of station that would be economic and comparable economically with conventional stations, to seek to improve the technical performance of each station as it was ordered.

But there are two reasons why we are behind America in this respect. I have already mentioned them. First, there is defence expenditure; and, second, the concentration in two large groups of the available effort has been an important factor. It is all too clear that in these very difficult, highly technological, very rapidly advancing fields, it is very easy to have too much competition. To give noble Lords one simple example: if you have five groups tendering for one station, they will each spend £100,000, perhaps £200,000 or more in preparing the tender, which runs to many inches of paper. Is this really economic? I very much doubt it, because each team is using a large number of very highly qualified and scarce engineering effort.

All this development has to be paid for. Because you get a fixed-price contract for the construction of nuclear power stations you do not get the development free: the development content is in the price. I wonder whether it would not have been better to concentrate the development effort more in those early days. I do not think the A.E.A. are to blame; their job is basic research effort and the production of basic information. Industry itself must do the development of an economic system, but it has to be clone within the proper organisational framework.

Another very important factor—on which I will not dwell because the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, covered it so well—is this business of the C.E.G.B. specifying their requirements in such very great detail. Whereas in America the company, the contractor, the industry, is left very largely to settle in its own way how it will meet the required performance, in this country all too often the specification includes such words as "to the satisfaction of the Board's engineer". In a situation where there is not a monopoly buyer, this is relatively unimportant because there are different buyers arranging specifications in different ways. But where there is a monopoly buyer, as we have here, this is a very important factor indeed. It also means that if the monopoly buyer, the monopoly authority, is wrong there is just one big mistake, and no counter-balancing opinion in the other direction to put it right.

I believe, for instance, that in the 1955 White Paper (I was not able to obtain a copy of it at the time) it was suggested that the probable type of reactor in 1965 would be a liquid-cooled reactor. This was in fact investigated but subsequently turned down, apparently to our detriment to-day. In the United States, as the noble Lord said, the contractor is given a free rein. He has a much better opportunity in this way of optimising the design and getting the right balance between cost and performance, the right balance between different parts of the system to give the most economic operation. I have heard it estimated that in this way savings of the order of 20 to 30 per cent. in capital cost can be achieved.

Other differences have been mentioned. One is depreciation practice. We depreciate over 20 years; I believe the United States depreciate over 30 years. Have all these factors been taken into account? Will all these factors, and many others I have omitted, be taken into account when comparison is made between the British and American systems?

Another most important point that must be considered is the effect on the British industry, on the British consortia, of a decision to go to America. Again, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I think he slightly overstated the position here. I do not believe that if you take a licence from another country you necessarily destroy your own industry. Did America destroy their aircraft Indus- try by taking a licence to build the Canberra bomber when they had no jet aeroplane? They bought time by buying the licence from this country. Then they improved on it and went ahead from there. Provided that we plan on that kind of basis, if it is wise for other reasons to take a licence, surely there is no harm in taking it.

However, there is a very important question to be asked at that stage. Supposing it is decided in the end to take an American licence, how shall we keep up with the technology in this country? Because what is absolutely certain is that no company can afford to pay for a licence and all the technical effort in supporting that licence and to pay for research and development on the kind of scale that is being paid for now. So what is the policy of the Government in this respect? Do they intend in these circumstances to place straight development contracts in industry to keep technology alive and ahead of the world, as we have been in the past, or do they intend, perhaps, to encourage one group to take a licence and another group to have contracts from the C.E.G.B., the A.E.A. for a British-designed reactor or in some way like that?

Finally, on these points, the present industry, as the White Paper says, is being asked to tender for two different types of reactor, for the American type and for the British type. This is an interesting exercise for the C.E.G.B. It enables them to get some idea of what the relative prices would be in production. But it is a very expensive operation for the industry if it is paying for the additional tenders, as I pointed out before. Again, I wonder whether sufficient thought has been given to whether all this competitive duplication of tendering is really the best way of using our national resources. Perhaps if the A.E.A. and the C.E.G.B. had been closer together over the years many of the problems industry is now being asked to settle by competitive tendering would have been nearer solution.

There is just one other point. As I have said already, the cost of development work is extremely high. For instance, I believe it is costing the consortia at the moment—all the consortia in this country—something of the order of £10 million a year to support their research and development teams. Somehow this has to be recovered, and it is rather sad to see in the first commissioning programme of atomic power stations, for 1962–69, 5,000 megawatts was to be installed, which is about 15 per cent. of the total. It is now shown in the White Paper, for planning purposes, to keep the situation flexible, that 5,000 megawatts is going to be installed in the period 1970–75. This is only 13 per cent. of the total planned commissioned power. I wonder whether it is wise that in this period there should be a smaller proportion of nuclear power stations, whether it would not be better to take advantage of the point mentioned by several speakers, to manufacture more stations from a given design.

I have referred to some of the problems and difficulties and criticisms of what is going on at the moment. I have done it because, surely, this is the way to improvement. But there is also much good to record. There has been successful design, development and operation of huge and complex systems in an entirely new field. The industry has developed comprehensive technical and manufacturing facilties in a relatively short space of time, and these difficult programmes have been pressed forward with commendable energy and initiative and enthusiasm, to the great benefit of the nation. I do not believe we have anything to be ashamed of—nothing at all, except possibly some mistakes in organisation. But certainly the engineers in this field in this country have nothing whatever to be ashamed of.

But if past investment in this new industry is to be worth while, if exports are to be obtained, if the future supply of electricity is to be provided at economic prices and, last but by no means least, if Britain is to retain the initiative and independence in this important field, we have got to do better in the future.

In conclusion, may I summarise how in my view we might go some way to achieve this? First of all, there needs to be a reappraisal of the functions and responsibilities of the A.E.A., C.E.G.B., and of industry to avoid overlapping, "empire building" or competition between them, and to ensure the best use of our resources. There has got to be much closer relations between A.E.A. and C.E.G.B., particularly in applied research and development work. There should be much greater freedom to industry to meet a performance specification and to produce designs which provide the best value for money. The best value for money in these commercial affairs is what matters, not the most super technical performance. Fourthly, there must be a reappraisal of the optimum number of groups to ensure greater concentration of effort on new types of system. There must be an increase in the number of stations produced from one design, perhaps by an increase in the nuclear proportion in the overall power station programme.

There should be a full investigation of all factors which may appear to make reactors based on American designs more economic. There should be a realistic appraisal of the long-term effect of choosing an American design for the British nuclear power industry, and a decision taken as to what is going to be done to keep us in the forefront of this important industry. I believe that, if action is taken along these kind of lines and the problems are studied realistically and without preconceived ideas, there is a great future before this industry; but if the issues are shirked, or if the voice of sound judgment cannot be heard above the noise of the grinding of axes, then certainly disaster will follow.

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, I would join with my noble friend Lord Champion in extending our thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for having given us, twice within twelve months, the opportunity to consider this extremely important subject. The noble Lord did not on this occasion go over any of the ground which he covered on the first occasion, when, as I recall, he spoke for some seventy minutes without a note. But I think he would agree with me in recollecting that it took the combined and most persuasive effeorts of his noble friends Lord Carrington and Lord Hails-sham (as he then was) to persuade him finally to withdraw his Motion calling for "an independent inquiry into the present position". I believe that had he then had the vision to look eleven months forward, at the White Paper which we are now considering, and which presumably partly arises from the advice of the Powell Committee, which he was assured was the equivalent of the Committee of Inquiry for which he was then asking, he would not then have withdrawn his Motion, but would have allowed the House to decide on the events.

I find myself, as often one does in a debate of this kind, in partial agreement with much that has been said by everyone, particularly my noble friend Lord Champion in his highly admirable speech. But again—and this also applies to my noble friend Lord Champion—I am in some disagreement. I think that all of us, so far as possible, should divest ourselves of any kind of prejudice, not merely as between one form of nuclear reactor and another but between one form of producing power, the nuclear form, and the conventional form. But (and my noble friend Lord Champion made this point quite clearly) in the White Paper we are not given the information on which to make a proper assessment of relative work and relative value. It is not so important that we in this House are not given the information: the point is that the industry is not given the information. I would submit that the only fair way of comparison is to compare like with like—by which I mean attempting to arrive at the cost per unit, allowing for the capital cost of the different types, their amortisation, and, of course, the production costs. It is no earthly use telling us that it costs £104 a kilowatt for the Wylfa station and some £37 of capital cost for conventional methods, and that it will cost much less in production per unit with the nuclear method and much more by the conventional method. We want comparative figures, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, will be able to give some information on this point by way of reply.

The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, made the point—this is a paraphrase of his words—that in his view the C.E.G.B. were pursuing a policy which runs counter to British interests and is bound to destroy our chances of exporting. He also expressed the opinion that the purchase of the American B.W.R. means that Britain would be opting out of the nuclear power plant industry. Again, these are not his precise words, but I think they are the purport of what he had in mind. With this the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, completely disagreed; and I would support him in expressing the view that, other things being equal, we should not turn our faces against the American appliance merely because it is American. That would be the height of absurdity, and also entirely contrary to the whole concept on which British industry is founded. But I do not accept what the noble Viscount said, that the British nuclear power industry can continue intact if after 1969 we take the American method alone. I believe that if we accept his assumption that the British industry is to continue with its design teams and the chance of continuing research, then it must be on the assumption that, alongside the American water-moderated reactor system, we should be proceeding with the British Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor as well.


My Lords, I am sure that I did not make clear that that is what I was trying to say. That if we took a licence from America it was essential to proceed with British development in parallel, to have our own ideas, and to improve upon the ideas and knowledge that we got from America. I agree that that is entirely essential, and I think that the noble Lord will see that I said something close to that.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Viscount. He and I are now in entire agreement. I did not want to interrupt him at the time, but I determined to make this point in my remarks. That was the impression that I got. He did not make his point clear. Therefore, I am now wholly in agreement with him.

But one essential point that I think has not been brought out in this debate is the extent to which this industry has been "messed about" and deceived, through the variations, the "go" and "stop", and the vacillations of Government policy, of which in my opinion this White Paper is just another example. We are all aware—the point has been made—that this is a tremendously expensive business. There is an enormous investment of capital. The point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and not denied, that every nuclear power station in this country so far has been a prototype—a prototype because it was ordered as such—and therefore naturally it must cost much more. But when we look at the position as a whole over the last nine years it would appear almost as if we had deliberately set about making it impossible for our own nuclear power industry to develop and to compete successfully. If, for example, we go back to the 1955 White Paper, we find these statements. First of all: It is intended that the electricity authorities and private industry should obtain as quickly as possible the practical experience in designing and building nuclear power stations that will be the necessary foundation for a big expansion in the later stages of the programme. It went on to say: The main burden of building and designing commercial nuclear power stations will fall upon industry who sill have to see that the necessary staff are trained. These are some of the many things that must be started soon if we are not to waste precious years in building up this new and unfamiliar industry. It was only nine years ago—and nine years is not long in the development of nuclear power stations—when in the same White Paper we were told that the total nuclear power station capacity installed by 1975 would be of the order of 10,000 to 15,000 megawatts. That was the task to which the industry was then urged to gear itself. Indeed, the Government said in the White Paper: This formidable task must be tackled with vigour and imagination. The stakes are high but the final reward wilt be immeasurable. That forecast, that the final reward would be immeasurable, is the only accurate one so far that the Government have made, because there have been no rewards to measure: they have all been losses. The noble Viscount, Lord Caldccote, said that the profits have been small, but in fact there have not been any profits at all.

After 1955 there were for some years continual urgings by Ministers in both Houses. For example, in March, 1957, the noble Viscount, Lord Mills, then Minister of Power, said this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 202, col. 185]: The Government have accordingly decided, with the full agreement of the Electricity Authorities and the Atomic Energy Authority, to adopt … a range of 5,000 to 6,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity in operation by the end of 1965. Then, later, he said [col. 192]: I have delayed putting forward this statement because I wished to satisfy myself that we had got a practical programme which we could follow … That statement is unequivocal enough. In the same year Mr. Maudling referred in another place to the fact that the construction of the nineteen nuclear power stations would not result in the cancellation of any contracts relating to the preexisting development programmes. In the same month he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 569, col. 35]: … in our energy policy our outlook must be bold and one in which we are prepared to take risks … our policy should be to err on the side of boldness. In the same debate Mr. George, his Parliamentary Secretary said [col. 106]: While I thankfully salute the scientist, I think that the Committee should salute the engineering firms who have taken up the building of these atomic power stations. … It is right to say that these firms did not face the task in a selfish way. It is right to say that they put prestige before profit. … This was private enterprise at its very best. We should give these firms our thanks. The kind of thanks they received was to he told, in 1958, that there were not going to be nineteen nuclear power stations but that the programme could be fulfilled with fourteen—although they were still assured in 1958 that it was intended to complete between 5,000 and 6,000 megawatts by the end of 1965.

In 1959 Lord Mills somewhat rhetorically asked this question [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 213, col. 696]: Should we abandon the maximum advantages to be gained from this great achievement"— the development of nuclear power— because we have had to stock a relatively small percentage of coal …? And he added [col. 697]: If one started to chop and change, one would soon have the industry ragged and unable to co-operate in the way one would wish it to co-operate. The consortia nobly and expensively responded to the request from the Government to net on with this vital job, and this nuclear work put heavy demands on the scientific personnel of the consortia and firms concerned. Technical teams of scientists and engineers were built up, which, if dispersed, could not be replaced. Throughout this time these speeches were made. For four years the Government encouraged immense outlay in overheads. Then in June, 1950, the blow fell, with the White Paper. We were told on June 20 that all seven nuclear power stations (the number had dropped over the years from nineteen to seven) should be in operation by 1966, with a total output capacity of approximately, not from 5,000 to 6,000, but 3,000 megawatts. The same White Paper said: What was not then foreseen was the extent of the fall which has also taken place in the costs of conventional power from new stations. My Lords, those are extracts, in chronological order, from the White Papers: the build-up; the exhortation to the firms to get on with the job, to use their skill, to spend their money, to do this vital job for Britain. And then not merely were they let down, but the programme was cut to half-size. It meant that the tremendous costs and overheads had to be spread over half the programme they were expecting, which meant that, relatively, they were doubled. In the current White Paper, the industry is virtually told, "You are relatively expensive"—I say that against this background of "go" and "stop" on the part of the Government.

The industry, once bitten, looks askance at this new and, in my view, sketchy White Paper, with its remarkable lack of solid information. Not one essential question is answered, although I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, when he comes to reply, will be able to answer some of the questions which have been put to him in the debate, The industry, the potential manufacturers and consortia, are, not surprisingly, confused by the implication in the White Paper that the estimated lower capital costs and higher running costs of water reactors are a development of recent origin. These facts were known years ago. They were known virtually when we started. They were well known at the inception of the first nuclear power programme. Moreover—and I think this is even more damaging—it seems to me that there is an implication in the White Paper that the Magnox system is becoming obsolete. Perhaps Lord Derwent may say a word about that, and, indeed, refute what I say if he thinks there is not that implication, because if it is so, and I think that it is, it can be misleading and damaging to the industry's export prospects.

With regard to the choice of reactors, it is acknowledged that the choice can be made only in the light of the full supporting information. It is the case that the Government can make an assessment only following an analysis of different tenders. But—and I believe that this point has not been made previously—the Government have had the benefit of technical and economic assessments which, so far, have been denied to the industry, which has borne the lion's share of the burden of financing civil nuclear power in this country. So I ask, why does not the Government agree to help the industry by bringing them into partnership in this matter and making the facts known to the firms concerned? Why ask them to indulge in a costly guessing game? Why cannot the Government let them know the information that is in their possession?

Surely, in the light of all the history of the development of nuclear power in this country, the Government must treat industry as partners in this enterprise and share with them the facts on which this second programme has been based. What can possibly be gained by keeping them in the dark? Indeed, without these facts the nuclear industry will be unable, because of the lack of essential background information, to make any judgment on which to base their future plans. This whole question has enormous significance to the export drive to which the nuclear power industry as a whole is already making an important contribution.

My noble friend Lord Champion stated—and no one could contradict this—that only 15 per cent. of the total price, as it were, of the American reactor system, if built in this country, would have to be imported, and therefore if eventually it produced a cheaper unit of electricity than other methods it was the system which we most certainly should adopt. I do not want to disagree with that thesis in principle, but I do say that that is not the whole story when we are considering whether or not we should buy the American system. There are so many ancillary questions attached to it, so many other ways in which our exports could be affected. If the use of the American system means the break up of design teams, an interruption in research, then, in my submission, that would be too big a price to pay for a possible saving—I know my noble friend did not say for certain that it was so—in money. Because it is increasingly evident that it is on the field of services and know-how and technology that Britain must rely for our major increases in exports, if we are going to sustain the necessary high rate of growth. I think, therefore, that we must stay in the nuclear field if we are to remain as expert as we need to be.

My noble friend thought that the programme was just about right. He and I will both remember the story that used to be told with delightful effect by our late noble friend Lord Dalton, when they used to say that about the beer—that it was just about right. "If it had been any better, we shouldn't have had any, and if it had been any worse it wouldn't have been fit to drink." That was the impression I got about this programme being just about right. My feeling is that it is a major defect in the programme that it should be put at a level of 5,000 megawatts, because I do not think it will be enough to maintain the industry in a healthy state, particularly if more than one reactor type is included in the programme with the consequent increased costs of parallel development. I say to my noble friend: if you have an American one and ours as well, then you make ours more expensive by reason of the fact that overheads have to be concentrated in a narrower, smaller field. That is another factor which ought to be taken into consideration.

Then my noble friend said that he was delighted to see that the programme was to be flexible. Of course, flexibility works both ways. One could imagine that it means that the programme could be expanded, and the flexibility would then show an increase. But the industry so far has seen the flexibility—which was such a feature of the first White Paper—working to cut down from 19 stations to 7 stations, and from an assumed 5,000 to 6,000 megawatts in 1966 to 3,000 megawatts. That kind of flexibility is what the industry is afraid of, because it has had this cutting done to it after it has spread out its plant, put out its plans and spent its money. That kind of flexibility is an utter disaster, not only to the nuclear power industry but to any major industry, where if you are going to be efficient, if you are going to succeed, you must have a plan, you must stick to the plan and you must have continuity. You just cannot succeed with "Stop and Go", because if there is another reduction in the scale of the programme it means that once again manufacturers' plans will be disrupted and they will be involved in further losses.

In fact, I would say—this is only to make a bit of a balance with my noble friend—that in my opinion the Government, in this White Paper, appear to have designed this second nuclear power programme on the basis of "Heads we win, and tails the industry loses". They could scarcely have been more successful if they had expressly set out with the intention of ensuring that after 1969 there would be no British nuclear power programme. They should make up their minds whether they really want one or not, and if the answer is, "Yes", then they should create conditions which will make it possible. In my submission, this White Paper, while denying us a number of essential facts that we and the industry must have, does not do anything but, nominally at least, say that the industry can stagger along for a bit longer.

In my own view, and I think this is borne out by the latest figures, the electricity industry, on average, has doubled its demand every ten years. I think last year the increase was 12 per cent., so it would seem that its demands are increasing even more rapidly than hitherto. Last winter we had a mild winter and therefore no black-outs, or almost none. But I think it is common knowledge that our power plant production programme cannot catch up with the anticipated largely increased demand until something like 1968. My personal opinion is that on the present basis it will be found, unless we have a business recession, not to have caught up then. Therefore I feel that the nuclear power part of the programme has a necessary and essential contribution to make. We should continue it on a scale sufficient to enable the necessary major economies to be achieved, and on a settled, fixed, assured programme, which would enable the industry to do its best and to compete successfully with other countries in this field.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for introducing the debate on this White Paper, because this matter is one of immense importance. I will try to show the House in the next few moments why I think that the Government's plan for the second nuclear programme is about right. I, for one, think that we did a most marvellous job, being pioneers in the world, in starting the first programme of nuclear power stations in this country. But I think it is quite true that pioneers must be very careful not to be left behind.

We have only just got a few figures of the performances of the first two stations at Berkeley in Gloucestershire and Bradwell in Essex. Berkeley in Gloucestershire is a station of 332,000 kilowatts. It has four sets of 83,000 kilowatts or 83 megawatts—I prefer to call them kilowatts, because I am old fashioned. The thermal efficiency of that station is 19.8 per cent., against the average efficiency of the 235 stations of the Generating Authority of 27.48 per cent. Bradwell, which is also running now, is a slightly larger station and its efficiency is much higher. That is the very important thing. The station is of 312,000 kilowatts, with six sets of 52,000 kilowatts each, and its thermal efficiency has gone up from 19 per cent. to 26.5 per cent. Of course, compared with the modern conventional stations, both of these power stations are of low steam pressure. Bradwell is 755 lb. per square inch and Berkeley is 595 lb. to 620 lb. per square inch.

I want just to compare that with two conventional stations, one of which I have had the pleasure of seeing. I must admit to your Lordships that I really have not yet seen an atomic power station. I was to be taken over one last summer, but it was not finished, and I hope I am going to be taken over Bradwell this summer. But I have seen Kincardine in Scotland, and this is a very fine station. It is a station of 760,000 kilowatts with three sets of 120,000 kilowatts and two sets of 200,000 kilowatts, and its thermal efficiency, which is all important, is 34.69 per cent. Its steam pressure is running now at the enormous figure of 1,600 lb. per square inch. That is where the great advance has been made in technology, in the greater rise in the steam pressure. When I was a director of a power company some years ago, before nationalisation, it was running at 800 to 900 lb. per square inch: it has now gone up to 1,600 lb. per square inch. Take Belvedere, in Kent, another very modern station, which has a capacity of 240,000 kilowatts it has two sets, each of 120,000. The thermal efficiency there is 34.8 per cent., which is a very high efficiency.

Therefore, I think Her Majesty's Government are right in not going on with too big a programme in the second phase until further advances can be made in these reactors, so that they are able to run much higher steam pressures. I am told that it is a metallurgical problem, a problem of metals, to try to get these reactors to go up to higher steam pressures. Unless we can get them to go up to higher steam pressures, we shall not of course get a higher thermal efficiency, and the price figure naturally depends entirely on the thermal efficiency of the station. I think a lot more research must be done. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government this: what is happening about the Dounreay station as an experimental station on 'which so many hopes were put and which was designed on a fast-breeder reactor system? A lot of hopes were based on that, and it is running now as an experimental station. All these stations which are running—or, rather, the two or three that are running now and the others which are nearly completed—were based on Calder Hall, on the Magnox reactor system.

Sizewell, Suffolk, I understand, is coming into operation next summer. That is a much bigger station. It is 650,000 kilowatts, and they have only two sets there, each of 325,000 kilowatts, coming into operation. I do not know what the steam pressure of that station is going to be, but with these very large sets, I think it will be much more economic. At the same time, we cannot get away from the fact that in the steam stations, the conventional stations, on the whole, tremendous advance has been made. The Statistical Digest for 1963, just issued by the Electricity Council, says: Western Europe's largest generating unit, a 550,000 kilowatt cross-compound turbo-alternator steamed from a single boiler, was commissioned at the Thorpe Marsh power station, near Doncaster". That is a huge set of 550,000 kilowatts. Therefore, like other noble Lords, I feel that a lot more basic research must be done before we embark on another very big programme, bigger than that Her Majesty's Government have announced, because we may Lind—and the White Paper says this—that, though the technical engineering is extremely well done, the technical results are a little disappointing. On page 2 of the Report, towards the bottom of the page, it says: Although the stations will produce power at a higher cost than was originally expected …". That is the point, that it is at a cost higher than was originally expected.

I feel that, although we have done a wonderful job in the past in bringing these stations into commercial operation, a great deal more research will have to be done. The point is, who is going to bear the cost of this very expensive programme of research? I would have thought that the Atomic Energy Authority, backed by funds from the central Government, would be the people who could do the research, once they have got the research right on different, new types of reactors and experimental stations. They built the original station at Calder Hall, on whose pattern the commercial stations are built, and they also built the Dounreay station, with the fast-breeder reactor. I feel they ought to be the people to put up another experimental station on this new basis. I am not against getting material from America, if it is an absolute necessity, under licence, as my, noble friend Lord Caldecote said, but I would rather that we produced it ourselves as the pioneers.

We must go on with our own ideas on the other system of advanced gas-cooled reactors, and perhaps we may have, under licence, to take the American boiling water reactor. Nevertheless, research must be done so that there is competition with the conventional stations, which in the last few years have made tremendous advances—I can assure your Lordships of that, and you know that well yourselves. For a conventional station the capital cost in 1948 was, I believe, £70 per kilowatt; it has now come down to between £45 and £50, and we are told in the White Paper that for the stations to come into operation in the future it may come down to £37. With those few words, my Lords, I should like again to thank my noble friend Lord Coleraine for introducing this most important subject. It involves vast capital expenditure, and it is a subject that this House ought to discuss very carefully before committing itself to this White Paper.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that I ought to begin by repeating what has already been said by every noble Lord who has spoken: that we owe a deep debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for introducing this very important debate. The amount of capital involved in an investment programme such as this is tremendous, and I certainly think it demands the most careful consideration not only by your Lordships' House but also by the other place. I found myself mostly in agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said, and I certainly think the concluding part of his speech, with reference to the Canadian method of development and of payment for a complete station, is well worth the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, whatever its political complexion. I thought that was a most valuable contribution to this debate. I agreed, too, with the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, in his fears (which, in my submission, are also real) of the overlapping of the Central Electricity Generating Board, the Atomic Energy Authority and also, in some respects, at very great expense, the consortia of industrial firms that are connected with the industry.

I should like to make a few observations on the speech of my noble friend Lord Stonham. I think it is quite untrue to say that all the atomic power stations are prototypes: that just is not true. The one prototype was Calder Hall. Calder Hall was developed by the Atomic Energy Authority, and then handed over, for the purposes of operation, quite rightly, to the proper authority, the Central Electricity Generating Board. I also think that any criticism of any Government, saying that they have cut down the programme from nineteen to seven (although I suppose it is eight, because we have eight atomic power stations in the process of being constructed), is due to all sorts of causes which are not the responsibility of the industry. There is the question of the amount of capital that is available for investment in this very important industry, electrical generation. But I do not think one can really criticise them for cutting down the number.


My Lords, would the noble Lord excuse me just one minute? I did not realise he was passing so quickly from his noble friend's point about prototypes. It may have been a slight misuse of the word "prototype", but the point the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, was making is, I think, a valid one. Each station has been of a substantially different design from the one which came before, and, therefore, there has been this tremendous extra cost. I think that was the point he was making, and that was valid.


Yes. I can even concede that point and still maintain my previous position —and I will tell the noble Lord why in answer to a very fair interjection. After all, is anybody going to say that conventional power stations are all standardised; that they have got to conform to certain designs and desires of the Central Electricity Generating Board? Indeed, they have to be vastly different in many cases because of the actual site on which the power station is going to be built. Therefore, it is not true to say that there is any great difference on the point which the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, made.

But, to revert to the question of cutting down the number of atomic power stations from nineteen to eight, in an era of shortage of electrical power—and we must face this fact—it is important that conventional power stations can be built considerably more quickly than atomic power stations. Now let us stop to analyse the effect on the people employed in the industry. First of all, the whole of the actual generating plant in an atomic power station and in a conventional power station is precisely and identically of the same type, whether it be turbines or alternators. The same type of labour is involved; the same consortia and the same companies make the equipment. On the question of boiler plants, I admit that this is an entirely different matter; but the same type of labour is employed and the same firms have their capital employed and give employment to that labour. Therefore there are no really difficult consequences to the consortia, because, whether we like it or not (there is no alternative), the people who build conventional power stations and plant are the same people who build atomic power stations.

I think we must agree that much has been achieved since Calder Hall, and we must realise and appreciate that the first nuclear power programme of eight stations has proved both efficient and reliable. The cost per kilowatt out has been reduced from £180 to £92, which I believe is the present price estimated for the Wylfa atomic power station in Anglesey. So there has been a tremendous saving in capital costs; there has been a halving. To that extent I say that it is a tribute to British industry, to the consortia and to all those engaged in the research associated with the industry. But they are all looking forward to the day when atomic power stations will be fully competitive with conventional coal and oil fuelled power stations. The position to-day, as has already been stated by many noble Lords, is that atomic power stations are cheaper to run but dearer to construct. When they achieve the figure of, say, from between £40 to £50 per kilowatt out they will be not only competitive but considerably cheaper than any conventional power station. I do not think it is foolish or indulging in crystal-gazing to anticipate that situation within a decade, for the reason I have given: that the industry and the consortia (and we must give credit where it is due) have reduced the kilowatt out costs from £180 to just over £90.

My Lords, I am rather surprised that no noble Lord has mentioned this (although I realise that it may be difficult for those people who are associated with the industry), but I think some reference ought to be made in your Lordships' House to the losses incurred by the consortia in constructing these stations. The average man in the street assumes that those losses have been borne by the taxpayer: the general impression is that the Government are subsidising all this. It is, in fact, the three consortia, or their shareholders, who have lost this money. And the reason for this is not due to professional incompetence; it is due simply to the fad that the consortia, the engineers and the scientists are dealing and have been dealing with the unknown, and there has been no previous experience on which to call.

On the question of large-scale new developments let us effect a comparison. There was no real prototype, as such, the expense of which was borne by the Government, in the construction of atomic power stations. Let us compare that situation with the millions of pounds that have been spent by the Government in constructing prototypes in the aircraft industry. I will not go through the whole list, but we have had the Brabazon, and at the present moment we are engaged in developing the Concorde. All this has cost millions of pounds of money. But in the case of atomic power stations, the consortia have not received millions of pounds in order to help them develop what is a new industry and in regard to which there was no real previous experience to go on. It is true also, of course, in the field of the development of missiles. The position in 1957—and this is when the real programme really got under way—was that this country was faced with a shortage of fuel oil and coal. This was a real shortage, and there was an urgent need for an alternative source of fuel to be used as a prime mover.

That was the position in 1957. Now, is any noble Lord courageous enough to get up and say, "We are not going to have that sort of situation again"? I am not thinking in terms of troubled political situations at all, but of the nature of the demand that is being made on our fuel resources. As has already been said, the electricity demand has been doubling itself every ten years; and this is not only true of Britain but of the whole of industrial Europe and of the United States of America. Let us face the fact that there is also a demand for an increase in coal and in oil. Here we must remember that both coal and oil are wasting assets and therefore we have to anticipate the future. We expect to export more coal, providing it is of the right type and quality. Therefore the nuclear power industry, as such, must be got into a healthy state, with work to do, in order to secure the future. The Central Electricity Generating Board realises that and the Government must realise it too.

Now, my Lords, I want to deal with the first nuclear programme. I think this is important in the light of what I shall say shortly. In the first programme we used natural uranium. What enriched uranium we possessed was needed, of course, for military purposes. The United States of America have always been in the fortunate position of having adequate supplies of enriched uranium available, both for military and civil requirements. But, what is the purport of such a statement? Why is it important? It is important for the simple reason that, as has been said, enriched uranium gives us lower capital costs in the construction of atomic power stations. But at the present time—and I must enter that caveat—it gives higher running costs. If we get lower capital costs then we are competitive with conventional stations; but the higher running cost is comparable only with such atomic power stations as are using natural uranium and those stations that will be constructed should a different type of reactor be chosen such as the advanced gas-cooled reactor or the pressurised water reactor. In other words, one must compare like with like.

In my submission, we should arrive at a situation very shortly, with the development of that type of reactor and with the use of enriched uranium, wherein not only capital costs will be lower but also running costs. If that situation arrives, as I believe it will, there is a 100 per cent. case for a very much larger atomic programme.


My Lords, would the noble Lord feel that this is a convenient moment to break off for the Royal Commission? If so, I beg to move the House do now adjourn during pleasure.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.